Contemplating red blossoms over the tree tops, my mother sits in her balcony. It’s not the first time.
My father takes a picture of her doing this, for the very first time, of both their lives. It’s his birthday. But no one will want to ask how old he’s gotten. His every birthday is a gift to whoever is still around.


Below: A poem by my father, Kirubhakaran, whom we call Appa:


My mind wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, a riot of orange and vermilion flowers  

In full bloom of our Flame of the Forest

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


More continuous than the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched on never-ending sky floor beneath me

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


Birds beside them danced; but they

Out-did the fluttering birds in glee:

A contemplative mood could not but become gay,

In such jocund company:

I gazed–and gazed–but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft, when on my couch I lie

Fondly thinking of my five lovely grandchildren,

The flames flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss and blessing of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And swims in soundaryalahari.*


* a flood of grace and beauty.

Adishankara wrote a Hymn under that name.

It’s life in the body

Seeking its pleasures, asleep.

It’s life in the mind

Seeking its pleasures, asleep.

It’s life in the spirit

When the mind is quiet, awake,

And the body, a moving stillness.

It’s the hour when no one speaks

what they really think.

It’s the hour of a dead harmony

when no one makes any mistakes.

It’s the hour of not knowing

that the wound is festering.

It’s the hour of acceptance

that it’s okay to stay unwell.

It’s the hour of affirming

that nothing much will ever change.

It’s the hour of not knowing

that one has become a fossil.

It’s the hour when there’s no life left

And it’s death wandering about.

It’s the hour when quarrels cease

because no one ever seeks an explanation.

It’s a chance moment
when inspiration strikes.
We caught the sparks
Flying like flint upon the page
Where Taj inscribed
Just our names.

Inscriptions Immortalised
By the artistry of the prolific one,
Who knows with great intimacy
The rhythms of the spoken tongue
And the beauty of the written word.
In such a one as this Masud, does
Language find its ultimate reason.



Sketch by H.Masud Taj

Tribute to Taj Masud

What does one, through whom
a little water flows now and then,
offer to one who is a mighty river?
It is to pay homage that he comes
and to feel what it is to sit
by the shores of abundant grace,
flowing forth in such exquisite verse!

“What do you do my friend?”, he asked.
He was rather perplexed when I gave him
A blank visiting card, virgin white as snow.
He looked at it as though he could read
Something written there in invisible ink.
I told him, “You could write in there,
Whatever it is you see in me.
Take your time filling it in,
And when it’s done, you let me know.
It’s only then, I’ll have your visiting card.
It’s by what you have seen that I’ll know you!





Photographed by Kamu !